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September 25, 2016

Final observations: Eagles 34, Steelers 3

Eagles NFL

When the Eagles manhandle a team widely considered to be a Super Bowl favorite to move to 3-0 entering their bye week, we get rid of the “bad” and “ugly” sections that usually make up these posts. Those are the rules.

Everything is great in Philadelphia, as the Eagles improved to 3-0 with a 34-3 drubbing of Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers’ 31-point deficit was the largest one that they have faced since Week 1 of 1997. They can’t use the opposition as an excuse anymore:

Pittsburgh didn’t come close to breaking their long losing streak in Philadelphia. Heading into the bye, the Eagles have now officially completed a perfect start to the season. Here’s what I saw:

The best

•    So, this is as pretty as it gets:

The good (everything else)

•    Carson Wentz simply can’t do anything wrong. In Week 1, he outplayed Robert Griffin III. In Week 2, it was Jay Cutler’s turn. In Week 3, Ben Roethlisberger was outshone by the rookie from North Dakota State.

Even better, Wentz didn’t take the type of big hits we routinely saw in the first two weeks. He finished an excellent 23-31 for 301 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

•    The move to Jim Schwartz and the 4-3 defense has worked out splendidly. Big Ben didn’t take the type of beating that we saw at The Linc eight years ago, but he was sacked four times by the Eagles front and pressured on numerous other occasions.

Rodney McLeod picked off the two-time Super Bowl winner in the fourth quarter:

•    Howie Roseman’s terrific 2014 offseason showed up on the field yet again. Specifically, the Eagles robbed the Saints of two terrific veteran players. Darren Sproles had six catches for 128 yards and Malcolm Jenkins (five tackles, three passes defensed) continued to set the tone as the veteran leader of the defense.

•    Three games, zero turnovers. Even more impressively, the Eagles haven’t appeared that close to giving the ball away.

•    After a slow start, the Eagles got their running game going with 125 yards on 30 carries. Perhaps impressively, fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood ran confidently, finishing with 79 yards. Expect to see more from the Wilmington native in the coming weeks.

•    Wentz has been terrific, but man, it’s incredible how well prepared Doug Pederson has this team to play every week. So far, you can make the argument that he’s the Eagles’ most impressive rookie.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann